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CAS decision ‘disgraceful’, says Players Association CEO

The AFL Players Association says the Essendon players are shattered after learning about their 12 month ban.

AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh has described the decision as disgraceful.

Clearly emotional, Marsh said telling the players about the ban was one of the hardest things he’s had to do.

Marsh said he continues to believe that the players have done nothing wrong, and that they took all steps to ensure the complied we the code.

He said he has serious concerns about the WADA code and its application in the AFL.

Marsh said the chance of legal action is high.

Marsh said he was ‘staggered’ by comments from ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt that ‘there were very little grounds for the players to claim they were at no significant fault.’

He said McDevitt had previously accepted that reducing the sanction on these grounds would be appropriate.

 

ASADA’s statement: 

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) today acknowledged the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to impose two year bans on 34 current and former Essendon Football Club players for the use of the prohibited substance Thymosin Beta 4.

The CAS result is final and overturns the decision of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal announced in March 2015. It comes in response to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) appeal of that Tribunal decision, which ASADA assisted in and strongly supported.

Despite the absence of positive test results, WADA was able to use evidence gathered by ASADA to prove that the players had been injected with the prohibited substance as part of a team program designed to give Essendon an unfair advantage in the 2012 season.

The evidence included text messages outlining a plan to source Thymosin Beta 4 for the purpose of doping the Essendon team, testimonies from players and officials, and a scientific analysis of substances sourced for the team.

It is the same evidence ASADA presented to the AFL Tribunal, however the different outcome represents the proper application of the burden of proof ? comfortable satisfaction ? as intended by the World Anti-Doping Code.

ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt said: ‘This unfortunate episode has chronicled the most devastating self-inflicted injury by a sporting club in Australian history.’

On the sanctions, he said: ‘There were very little grounds for the players to claim they were at no significant fault.’

‘The players had received anti-doping education through the AFL and ASADA, and were well aware that they are personally responsible for all substances that entered their body.’

‘Unfortunately, despite their education, they agreed to be injected with a number of substances they had little knowledge of, made no enquiries about the substance and kept the injections from their team doctor and ASADA.’

‘Of 30 ASADA testing missions during the period in question, none of the 18 players tested declared the injections, despite being asked each time whether they had taken any supplements.’

‘At best, the players did not ask the questions, or the people, they should have. At worst, they were complicit in a culture of secrecy and concealment.’

‘The CAS result brings this matter to a close and ASADA looks forward to continuing to work with all sporting codes to promote a clean and fair sporting environment.’

The two-year ban imposed by the CAS has been backdated on a case by case basis, with respect to time already served by the players who accepted provisional suspensions in 2013, and delays to the case outside of the players’ control.

 

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